Amazon Extends Year-Long Ban on Police Use of Facial Recognition

Posted: May 18, 2021 10:30 PM
Amazon Extends Year-Long Ban on Police Use of Facial Recognition

Source: AP Photo/Reed Saxon, File

Amazon announced Tuesday that it is extending a moratorium it implemented last year on police being permitted to use its facial recognition technology.

The company had stopped allowing police to use its software for one year, starting in June 2020, shortly after Black Lives Matter protests and calls to defund the police took the country by storm following the death of George Floyd.

Civil liberties advocates feared that inaccurate face matches by police could result in cops arresting the wrong person. Other concerns are a potential loss of privacy and freedom of expression, according to Reuters.

Last year, it said it hoped Congress would put in place rules to ensure ethical use of the technology, though no such law has materialized.

Amazon heard demands from activists this month, who called for a permanent ban on police use of the facial recognition.

Nathan Freed Wessler, a deputy project director at the American Civil Liberties Union, supported Amazon's decision and said federal and state governments should ban police use of facial recognition software.

Wessler said in a statement:

Face recognition technology fuels the over-policing of black and brown communities, and has already led to the false arrests and wrongful incarcerations of multiple black men. 

Amazon face-matching technology called "Rekognition" is a service from the company's cloud computing division. 

It has previously been criticized for not being able to determine the sex of racial minorities with dark complexions. However, Amazon denies this occurrence, according to Reuters.